Nearly 150,000 adults and children visited their GP or local pharmacy for a flu jab in the first few weeks of south west London’s biggest ever drive to protect people from the virus.
Figures for the first five weeks of the programme’s roll-out reveal that 95,000 people were vaccinated at GP surgeries at an average rate of 19,000 a week with a further 45,000 people vaccinated at a community pharmacist, as well as 9,500 NHS staff having the jab.
Current figures indicate that thousands more have been vaccinated than at the same time last year where 140,000 people got the flu jab in the first nine weeks of the programme – at an average weekly rate of around 15,500.
With both flu and Covid-19 circulating over winter, it is more important than ever for those most at risk to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families.
The NHS is working hard to ensure that people can get their flu jab in a safe and convenient way – from ensuring social distancing and face coverings are worn, using hand sanitiser and operating one-way systems.
Dr Andrew Murray, Merton GP and Clinical Chair at NHS South West London Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s great news that 150,000 people in south west London have already had their jab, including those with long-term health conditions and small children, because with Covid-19 circulating widely, it is more important than ever for those most at risk to get vaccinated.
“It means we’re ahead of schedule with our programme and with more supplies on the way there is enough flu vaccine to go round before the flu season starts so I would urge anyone who is eligible for a free jab to continue to come forward and get booked in – it’s really important, not only to protect yourself but also your family and your friends.”
The news comes after the government announced it was significantly expanding the number of people eligible to make it the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in UK history with around 500,000 expected to be offered a free jab in south west London.
Flu jabs for people who are eligible can be booked through GP practices or local pharmacists. They may also receive a letter or a phone call to remind them to book in for their jab, including information about where to go to get the vaccine.
For eligible people who have yet to get their jab such as at-risk under-65s and small children more stock is being delivered now and in the coming weeks. As the programme continues into the flu season, which does not normally start until December, there will be enough vaccine for everyone who is eligible.
While flu can cause mild illness in most people, some are more likely to develop potentially serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia with around 11,000 people a year on average dying as a result in England.
Earlier this month, the government confirmed that people aged 50 to 64 can get free a flu jab from their GP or pharmacy from 1 December. It means the groups now eligible for a free vaccination are:
- Adults aged 65 and over by March 31, 2021
- Pregnant women
- Those with some pre-existing medical conditions, including those at-risk aged two to 64
- Those on the shielded patient list and members of their household
- Children aged two–three and all school year groups up to year seven
- Adults aged 50-64 (from 1 December)
The NHS is pulling out all the stops to make getting a flu jab safe and convenient. Some surgeries have offered drive through options in their car parks or used local community buildings and people in Croydon have used drive through clinics at IKEA and Crystal Palace Football Club.
The flu vaccine is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk from flu and its complications. More information is available on the NHS website – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/
Further breakdown of the figures.
Figures for the five weeks to 11 October – the early stages of the programme’s roll-out – reveal that 95,000 people were vaccinated at GP surgeries in Merton, Wandsworth, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton and Croydon at an average rate of 19,000 a week.
In the nine weeks to 31 October last year, figures on Public Health England’s website show that around 140,000 GP-registered patients got the flu jab in the six boroughs – at an average weekly rate of around 15,500.
Another 45,000 people had their flu jab ahead of this winter at a community pharmacist – estimates suggest that is thousands more than at the same time last year.
Videos of clinicians highlighting safety measures put in place by the NHS:
Wandsworth – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skRxlo-B0lA&t=8s
Sutton – https://youtu.be/6JVJ7-sP3Fw